Book Beginnings and Friday 56 – The Book of Negroes (June 22)

My choice of book for this week’s Friday meme combo is The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill. A friend recommended this book to me a couple of years ago, but I haven’t got around to reading it yet. It’s on one of my reading challenges lists for this year, so I’m hoping to get it read very soon. I’ve heard so many good things about it and I’m looking forward to getting it off my TBR list. GoodReads has the following description:

Unrolling a map of the world, Aminata Diallo puts one finger on the coast of West Africa and another on London. The first is where she was born in 1745, the second is her location six decades later. Her story is what happened in between, and her remarkable voice is the heart and soul of Hill’s magnificent novel.

Brought before the British public by the abolitionists to reveal the realities of slavery, she has come, old and weary, to change the tide of history and bear witness to some of the world’s most grievous wrongs.

Kidnapped and taken from her family as a child, Diallo is forced aboard a ship bound for South Carolina, where she arrives at age 12, weak and ill, the other slaves her only family. But soon she is sold again and begins an exodus that will lead to Canada, where she discovers the same relentless
hardship and stinging prejudice.

Her hunger for freedom drives her back across the Atlantic to England, and in 1792, Aminata undertakes yet another ocean crossing, bound for the place of her birth.

Now on to this week’s excerpts:

Book Beginnings is hosted by Gilion at Rose City Reader, who invites anyone to join in, saying: ‘Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.  Please remember to include the title of the book and the author. Leave a link to your post.  If you don’t have a blog, but want to participate, please leave a comment with your Book Beginning.’

The beginning of The Book of Negroes:

I seem to have trouble dying. By all rights, I should not have lived this long. But I still can smell trouble riding on any wind, just as surely as I could tell you whether it is a stew of chicken necks or pigs’ feet bubbling in the iron pot on the fire. And my ears work just as good as a hound dog’s.

I like the sound of this beginning. Already it raises questions that need to be answered! Why does this person want to die and why he/she not have lived this long?

The Friday 56 is a book meme hosted by Freda’s Voice and the rules are as follows:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it) that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post below in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url.

It’s that simple.

From page 56 of The Book of Negroes:

A series of coincidences saved my life during the ocean crossing. It helped to be among the last persons from my homeland to be loaded onto that vessel. It also helped to be a child. A child had certain advantages on a slave vessel. Nobody rushed to kill a child. Not even a man-stealer. But, also, the child’s mind has elasticity.

So, that’s it for this week. Hopefully I’ll get round to reading this soon, because it really looks like it will be a good read.

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12 thoughts on “Book Beginnings and Friday 56 – The Book of Negroes (June 22)

    • I think the author used the title deliberately to get people’s attention, but also as a reference to a document of the same name. According to Hill: ‘I used The Book of Negroes as the title for my novel, in Canada, because it derives from a historical document of the same name kept by British naval officers at the tail end of the American Revolutionary War. It documents the 3,000 blacks who had served the King in the war and were fleeing Manhattan for Canada in 1783. Unless you were in The Book of Negroes, you couldn’t escape to Canada.’

      Thanks for stopping by and also for hosting the 56.

      • Thanks for filling me in on the title…. I was taken aback for a fraction of a second, it’s not a term used much these days. I appreciate where it comes from though and feel I have learned something new with your help, so thank you.
        And glad to have you as a participant of the 56! I look forward to your posts each week!

  1. The quotes from the beginning and the Friday 56 are fantastic! I might add it my list…I feel like I could learn a lot from it.

    I hope you enjoy reading it.

      • You are correct. Did some more research, as this really intrigues me. Might actually pull me away from my mystery reading. But I can’t get it anytime soon so I will wait and see if you read it and how you like it.

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